Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Our place in the universe . . .

     Nanao Sakaki  (1923-2009) was a Japanese poet who began to wander the world after his term in the Japanese military in WWII -- and his poems give views of these travel experiences. He met Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg in the 1960s and his work has been noticeably influenced by theirs.  Here, from his collection Break the Mirror (Blackberry Books, 1996) is "A Love Letter" -- a poem that considers how the universe spreads out around us.

       A Love Letter      by Nanao Sakaki

       Within a circle of one meter
       You sit, pray and sing.

       Within a shelter ten meters large
       You sleep well, rain sounds a lullaby.

       Within a field a hundred meters large
       Grow rice and raise goats.       

       Within a valley a thousand meters large
       Gather firewood, water, wide vegetables and Amanitas.

       Within a forest ten kilometers large
       Play with raccoons, hawks, poison snakes and butterflies.
           . . .

Each stanza expands the poet's vision until billions of light years are reached, and 

       All thoughts of time, space are burnt away
       There again you sit, pray and sing.
       You sit, pray and sing.

The complete poem may be found here on an archival website for Sakaki.

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